The Tonkin Gulf Yacht Club

Naval Aviation in the Vietnam War

The Tonkin Gulf Yacht Club cover


This book tells the full story of the US Naval air campaign during the Vietnam War between 1965 to 1975, where the US Seventh Fleet, stationed off the Vietnamese coast, was given the tongue-in-cheek nickname 'The Tonkin Gulf Yacht Club'.

On August 2, 1964, USS Maddox became embroiled in the infamous 'Gulf of Tonkin incident' that lead directly to America's increased involvement in the Vietnam War. Supporting the Maddox that day were four F-8E Crusaders from the USS Ticonderoga, signalling the start of the US Navy's commitment to the air war over Vietnam.

The Tonkin Gulf Yacht Club was the nickname for the US Navy's Seventh Fleet, Task Force 77, stationed off the coast of Vietnam which, at various points throughout the war, comprised as many as six carriers with 70–100 aircraft on board. The Seventh Fleet played an essential role in supporting operations over Vietnam, providing vital air support to combat troops on the ground and taking part in major operations such as Rolling Thunder and Linebacker I and II.

Serving with the US Seventh Fleet during this period and involved in the dramatic history of The Tonkin Gulf Yacht Club was author Tom Cleaver, who was a 20-year-old member of Commander Patrol Forces Seventh Fleet which had operational control over Maddox and Turner Joy. His use of dramatic first-hand experiences from interviews with both American and Vietnamese pilots plus official Vietnamese accounts of the war provides a balanced and personal picture of the conflict from both sides. Detailing the very earliest incident in the Gulf of Tonkin through to the final evacuation of US nationals in 1975, he brings the story of US air intervention into Vietnam vividly to life.

Table of Contents

List of Maps and Illustrations
Foreword by Captain Roy Cash, Jr., USN (Ret)

1. Shooting at Flying Fish
2. Naval Aviation's Revolutionary New Sword
3. Opponents
4. The Rules of Engagement
5. Rolling Thunder, 1965–68
6. Air Combat, 1964–66
7. Air Combat, 1967–68
8. Alpha Strike
9. Spads vs. MiGs
10. "The Forrest Fire"
11. Top Gun
12. Interregnum, 1968–72
13. A New War
14. Operation Linebacker, 1972
15. Three DFCs in Seven Days
16. End Game, April 1975
17. Southeast Asian Finale


Product details

Published Jun 20 2023
Format Paperback
Edition 1st
Extent 400
ISBN 9781472845948
Imprint Osprey Publishing
Illustrations 8-page plate section in colour
Dimensions 234 x 153 mm
Series General Aviation
Short code GNA
Publisher Bloomsbury Publishing

About the contributors


Thomas McKelvey Cleaver

Thomas McKelvey Cleaver has been a published write…


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